Simple ways of talking about COVID-19 with young children

Sam and Julie were so happy to hear that they could leave their apartment with their young children to take a walk around the neighborhood. Their children, Gemma and Paul, ages 4 and 6, were acting out after being inside for so many weeks. Yet, when Sam and Julie were talking to Gemma and Paul, both children said they were scared to go outside. They were worried about getting sick. Sam and Julie wondered how to calm their children’s fears.

Facing a health emergency brings up feelings of stress, uncertainty, and confusion, especially for young children. While we don’t want to overload them with information, we can try to answer children’s questions honestly. And we can always offer comfort. There are simple ways to talk about COVID-19 with young children:

  • Ask children what they’ve heard about COVID-19. This will help you share only the information that they need right now.
  • Ask them how they feel about it. Assure them that all their feelings are okay. Explain that COVID-19 is a virus that can make some people very sick, but there are ways to protect ourselves and others.
    • For example, we can…
      • wash our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after returning home;
      • say hello in new ways, such as waving from afar;
      • help prevent the spread of germs by sneezing or coughing into the bend of our arm; and
      • keeping a safe distance from oth

Remember, our children look to us for guidance and comfort. You have a great opportunity to show them that even in times of unease, you can still find joy in the little moments you share. You’re in this together.

–Adapted from Sesame Street in Communities

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